Box Office Beat: Weekend of November 16

Danny Baldwin's Box Office BeatHello and welcome back to Box Office Beat, the column in which I predict the upcoming weekend’s box office results. After coming within 1.9 percent of the actual for “Skyfall” last weekend, I’m feeling pretty good about my prognostication abilities–at least for now. Let’s hope I don’t goof on one or both of this weekend’s two new releases so I can keep my ego momentarily inflated. It’s number crunching time…

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2The final installment of “The Twilight Saga,” entitled “Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” floods the marketplace in over 4,000 theaters this weekend and should be as big a hit as the rest of the series. Because this is the last one, there is some question of whether it will experience a surge over its predecessors, much like “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” did, largely because of repeat viewings among the core fan-base. This is certainly a possibility, but I personally don’t see it happening because the “Twilight” franchise doesn’t have the same timeless quality of “Harry Potter,” meaning fans aren’t quite as eager to see it over and over to memorialize the weekend that the series came to an end (though I’m sure many will–just not as many as did with “Potter”). Furthermore, I think the average “Potter” fan is older than the average “Twilight” fan, meaning more freedom to see it a ridiculous number of times. Thus, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2” should open right in line with the two other “Twilight” sequels that opened on Fridays — “New Moon” ($142.8m) and “Breaking Dawn: Part 1” ($138.1m). Averaging those two, I’m predicting $140.6 million, though it could be less if Summit decides to report Thursday 10 p.m. preview shows separately from Friday (unlikely).

LincolnThen there’s something completely different: Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” the Daniel Day Lewis-starring biopic of the 16th President of the United States, expands into a semi-wide release of about 1,500 locations, following its robust exclusive release in 11 theaters last weekend. There’s not a ton of box office precedent in the Presidential biopic genre–Oliver Stone’s “W.” was more of an “hot-button issue movie” than an historical piece and Stone’s “Nixon” and “JFK” were released so long ago that they aren’t relevant–so I think comparing this to other recent, adult-skewing biopics is the way to go. I’m reminded particularly of “Ray,” starring Jamie Foxx, in that it likewise held special appeal for African-American audiences (albeit for totally different reasons). That film opened to an even $20m from about 33 percent more theaters than “Lincoln” is playing in. On the same note, the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line” earned $22.3m from about double the locations, similarly opening against a late-fall tentpole release (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”). So the primary question is: how will the smaller theater count of “Lincoln” affect its box office potential? Well, if “Ray”’s 32.3 percent less theater count over “Walk the Line” resulted in a 10.3 percent less weekend total, then “Lincoln”’s 25 percent less theater count than “Ray” should proportionately result in an 8.0 percent less weekend total than “Ray.” Sure, these calculations are all just fun and games–I’m not Nate Silver, for crying out loud–but I’ll go with them, which means $18.4 million for “Lincoln.”

My prediction of what the full top 10 will look like:

  1. “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2” … $140.6m
  2. “Skyfall” … $44.6m  -49.2%
  3. “Wreck-It Ralph” … $23.1m  -30.0%
  4. “Lincoln” … $18.4m  1949.2%
  5. “Flight” … $9.7m  -34.5%
  6. “Argo” … $5.3m  -19.9%
  7. “Taken 2” … $2.6m  -35.2%
  8. “Pitch Perfect” … $2.2m  -14.5%
  9. “Here Comes the Boom” … $1.9m  -24.7%
  10. “Hotel Transylvania” … $1.4m  -41.7%